Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chapter 12

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Then, without warning, she sautéed her way into my office and said:

“Got the time, stranger?”

I leaned forward and, lighting a Lucky, I leaned forward. “Well,” I said, leaning forward, “why don’t you go to hell first—and then I’ll tell you.”

“You’re a real hard case, shamus,” she said, a tear leaning forward down her porcelain cheek. “I have a hard case for you. Probably as hard a case as dropped in the lap of a hard-case shamus like you.”

She was broad where a broad should be, with flowing thighs and creamy blonde hair, and her feminine charms jiggled like a boxcar full of sumo wrestlers. Her high heel shushed over the carpet and I wondered if she’d lost the other leg in the war. Over her buttery soft cleavage she wore a lobster bib with a picture of Poseidon on it that explained the jagged shards of pink shell snagged in her mink stole.

I took off my lobster bib and, tossing it across the room, leaned forward. “All right, sugar,” I said, pouring myself a rye. “Put me wise.”

She leaned forward. “You’re Rex Marfan, private dick, are you not?”

I was not, but I let her go on believing I was because she was the first customer I had all day. My name is Jerry Stumpf, rug shampooer. I shampoo rugs. That’s my job. That’s what I do.

“Yeah, I’m Marfan,” I shrieked. “What’s it to you, doll?” I shrieked.

Then flashing a rock the size of Gibraltar she shrieked:

“I want you to find someone for me. It’s my husband. He’s been missing for three days now, and I’m starting to get worried.”

“What happened?” I asked, leaning forward.

“He’s dead. I buried him yesterday in the St. Jesus of the Last Resort Cemetery on the corner of Lexington and Lexington.”

I drank my dinner and couldn’t sleep, idly firing holes into the ceiling with my Luger to clear my thoughts. It was a hard case, all right. But why was she constantly on my mind? And why did I get the distinct feeling that, while she may have been all she had been cracked up to have been, there was somewhere under that cheap two-bit facade a more expensive three-bit facade, the surface of which I had only just begun to crack? That story she’d laid on me had more holes than a roof on a hot tin cathouse. I kept wishing I had taken that paper bag off my head while she was there.

“How’s the case coming along?” she said, cinching a bedsheet to her naked form and leaning forward seductively into my parlor from the bedroom, where we’d whiled away the minutes making sweet music together and then talking about our favorite colors and radio programs and religious preferences. I had to admit, for a great-looking dame, she wasn’t half-bad.

“Not too bad, sugar,” I said, lighting a Lucky. “Not too bad.”

“Have you found my husband yet? I’m so worried about him.”

I lit a Lucky and leaned forward. “Listen, sister. Why don’t you go to hell first—and then I’ll tell you.”

The truth was, I had found her husband. I’d had a hunch the floozy had bumped him off, and sure enough she had buried him yesterday in the St. Jesus of the Last Resort Cemetery on the corner of Lexington and Lexington. But I wasn’t about to tell her that. Not until I had played my final hand.

She went to hell, and then she came back. Now I felt it was safe to tell her where her husband was.

“He’s dead,” I said, leaning a finger forward at her. “And you killed him, didn’t you, sugar?”

“No,” she shrieked.

The truth was, she didn’t kill him. Later on, we were married.

1 comment:

anny cook said...

This is almost as twisted as our blogga saga--and I didn't think anything could get more twisted than that.

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